First Aid - Find out more Health & Safety - Find out more

GENERAL NEWS UPDATES


  • CHANGES TO RIDDOR

From 6 April 2012, the over-three-day reporting requirement for people injured at work will change to more than seven days. From then, you only have to reportinjuries that lead to a worker being incapacitated for more than seven consecutive days as the result of an occupational accident or injury (not counting the day of the accident but including weekends and rest days). The report must be made within 15 days of the accident.

Incapacitation means that the worker is absent, or is unable to do work that they would reasonably be expected to do as part of their normal work.

You must still keep a record of the accident if the worker has been incapacitated for more than three consecutive days. If you are an employer, who must keep an accident book under the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations1979, that record can be treated as a record for the purposes of RIDDOR.

 

RECENT HSE PRESS RELEASES

JULY 2012

 

UK Coal Ltd, of Harworth, Nottinghamshire, and Joy Mining Machinery Ltd, of Worcester, were sentenced at Leeds Crown Court today  after both had pleaded guilty at earlier hearings to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

UK Coal had admitted failing to take steps to ensure the safety of workers using powered roof supports. Joy Mining admitted failing to send out its bulletin warning of a dangerous defect in their powered roof supports.

The prosecutions were brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following a painstaking investigation by its Mining Inspectorate into Mr Cameron’s death at Kellingley colliery on 18 October 2009.

Leeds Crown Court was told that Mr Cameron, 46, died as a result of his injuries when a powered roof support (PRS) lowered spontaneously, crushing him against large amounts of debris that had accumulated within the walkway of the support.   The PRS was one of several hundred supplied to UK Coal by Joy Mining, each weighing some 15 tonnes and designed to support 510 tonnes.

Mr Cameron, a face worker at Kellingley with 30 years’ experience, died in hospital shortly after the incident.

Leeds Crown Court heard that a solenoid valve within the powered roof support had become worn and defective. The result was that hydraulic fluid was able to pass under pressure through a valve and cause the PRS canopy to descend without the control button being operated.

A similar solenoid malfunction on a PRS made by Joy had happened in Australia the previous year, 2008. The company issued a warning bulletin but failed to circulate it within the UK or provide it to UK Coal; nor did Joy notify them of the incident until after Mr Cameron’s death.

HSE’s Mining Inspectorate found that PRS’s installed where Mr Cameron worked had been salvaged from another coal face at the mine and assessed by UK Coal as fit for transfer with limited maintenance.  The solenoids on the PRS’s were not rigorously tested.

From the outset of production in April 2009 the PRS’s had numerous faults that were recorded but not corrected.  They included burst hoses, faulty solenoids and broken or defective parts. UK Coal was aware of the problems but regarded them as production issues rather than a significant risk to the safety of workers.

On 18 October 2009, Mr Cameron was operating a PRS and a colleague was working separately nearby. More than two feet of broken stone debris had built up in the walking track and leaving just under 30 inches’ clearance between the top of the debris and the underside of the PRS canopy at full height.

Only a few hours into the shift, the hydraulic feed system had tripped out nine times, at least seven caused by a burst hose. Mid-morning the colleague noticed Mr Cameron could not be seen but saw that a PRS had lowered. He disabled the machine and called a supervisor for help. Together they raised the PRS and found Mr Cameron face down under the canopy in a crawling position on top of the debris. Other miners swiftly came to help and he was taken to hospital but died soon after arrival.

UK Coal Mining Ltd, was fined £200,000 for a breach of Section 2(1) of the Heath and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 with £218,000 in costs. No further penalty was imposed a breach of Section 3(1) of the same Act.

Joy Mining Machinery Ltd, was fined £50,000 for its offence under Section 6(1)(d) of the legislation, with £100,000 in costs.

 

The Gas Safe Regional Investigations officer found the boiler's chimney had not been properly connected to the flue, and Mr Dixon had pushed plastic insulation material down a separation gap to try to form a seal. This defect was deemed immediately dangerous as the material would melt when temperatures rose causing fumes to enter the roof space.

Mark Dixon of Pools Lane, Royston, Barnsley, pleaded guilty to four charges under the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998.

 

A demolition firm and its director have been fined for endangering workers at a site in West Sussex.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Rabbit Demolition and Excavation Ltd and its director, Colin Bell, for not providing a safe means for working on a roof during the demolition of the Ball Tree Inn between the 12 and 21 September last year.

Worthing Magistrates' Court heard today (16 July) that a member of the public sent HSE a photograph showing workers on the site, run by Rabbit Demolition, removing roof tiles from the former pub with no edge protection in place to prevent falls. One worker was also shown to be standing in the bucket of an excavator being driven by Colin Bell.

HSE investigated and found working practices were unsafe and unnecessary, and that edge protection in the form of scaffolding could have been provided. Alternatively, the work could have been safely carried out using a mobile elevated working platform.

Rabbit Demolition and Excavation Ltd, pleaded guilty to breaching section 25(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The firm was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,500.

Colin Bell, director of Rabbit Demolition and Excavation Ltd, of Edgehill Way, Portslade, Brighton, also pleaded guilty to the same breach. He was fined £500 with costs of £500.

 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted a large independent school in Dorset and the director of a company responsible for a refurbishment project, after an investigation found they had failed to identify and prevent the risk of asbestos exposure during the removal of asbestos insulation boards.

The asbestos insulation boards were removed in an unsafe way, exposing building contractors and a teenage work experience student to asbestos fibres, leaving them at risk of developing serious and potentially fatal diseases later in life.

The HSE investigation found that from the initial design stages in May 2008 right through to undertaking the construction work in July 2009, there was inadequate planning and a failure to carry out a full asbestos survey. This was despite the fact that a sample taken from the building in 2008 had identified its presence, and asbestos had previously been removed from other parts of the school. An asbestos register was also kept for the school buildings.

The court heard that neither the Company Director nor the school had appointed a Construction Design and Management (CDM) coordinator for the refurbishment project, despite it being a requirement of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 for a project of this size. The CDM coordinator would have ensured a full refurbishment and demolition asbestos survey was completed in advance of construction work. Licensed asbestos contractors could then have been appointed to safely remove it.

The school was found guilty of breaching Regulation 4(8) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and Regulation 14 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The school was fined a total of £60,000 and ordered to pay £13,000 in costs

 

A joint investigation by Northumbria Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the work had not been properly planned, inadequate equipment had been provided, and that the workers were not properly trained or supervised.

Scotts of Whittington Ltd, was today (13 July) fined £65,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for safety failings. The Company director and his son, a fellow director of the company, also pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) by virtue of Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were fined £13,000 and £2,000 respectively. In addition the defendants were ordered to pay combined court costs of £19,000.

 

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed it failed to provide adequate certification for appliances in scores of properties under its control between April 2008 and July 2010. The HSE uncovered the failings after a tenant at a multi-occupancy emergency hostel, complained that a gas safety certificate wasn't available.

Checks at the hostel on 10 July 2009 found that a gas safety record for the property, which contained several gas cookers and other appliances, had expired on 4 April 2008 - 15 months previously.

HSE asked the local authority to provide a 'lapse table' for other properties where annual safety checks had slipped and was given a list of 297 properties. Twenty were subsequently investigated by HSE and all were found to contain gas cookers or boilers that should have been checked at least every 12 months.

 

The site was still not organised in a safe manner and the hazards noted during the initial visit were still present. A second Prohibition Notice was served to stop any further construction work until a safe means of access around the site had been established.

 

Nuneaton Magistrates' Court heard today (9 July) that the two injured employees were among six workers helping to reinstall a large motorised fan in a ceiling. As they tried to push a heavy motor back into the fan a section of the mesh mezzanine platform they were stood on became dislodged and they both fell 2.2 metres to the ground below.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found the company had failed to properly plan the work at height. Even after the fall, Mira Ltd neglected to implement satisfactory safety measures and risks remained until the work was completed.

 

Hayles Pressings Ltd, a Stockport engineering firm has pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 by not providing adequate training to employees, not checking guards were in place, and not preventing access to dangerous parts of the machine  after one of its employees lost four fingers on his left hand when they were crushed in machinery. The Company, was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay £2,500 towards the cost of the prosecution on 6 July 2012

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the machine guards had been disconnected and tied back several days before the incident to allow easy access. This meant that operators could put their hands under the tools to remove components without the power first being cut.

The court was told the most likely explanation for the worker's injuries is that he accidently leant on the foot pedal which operated the press while his hand was under the cutting tools. He lost all of the fingers on his left hand including the knuckles and, despite several operations and skin grafts, still has very little use of his hand.

 

A nursing home was found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 after failing to ensure the safety of an elderly, blind, wheelchair-bound resident who died after falling down a flight of stairs.The company was fined £110,000 and ordered to pay £26,226 in costs.

Patrick Foale, 75, lived at the Nursing Home in Devon, when the incident happened on 1 November 2010. Mr Foale, who was diabetic, fell down the stairs in his wheelchair when he accessed a staircase after a fire door had been left open. He suffered serious face and head injuries and died the next day in Torbay Hospital.

The court heard that Mr Foale, a resident since February 2001 and formerly of Totnes, spent much of his time in his own room on the first floor of the nursing home in Old Totnes Road. He was capable of moving himself in his wheelchair and was able to move freely around the home, using the passenger lift to go outside for a cigarette at regular intervals throughout the day. However, the nursing home was aware Mr Foale had deteriorating eyesight and had been suffering periods of disorientation

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the prosecution against Your Health Ltd, the owners of the home after investigating the incident, and found the company had failed in its duty to provide a safe environment for him.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector, said:

"Mr Foale was clearly a vulnerable resident. Your Health Ltd failed to carry out a suitable risk assessment for him, neglected to make provision for Mr Foale's deteriorating eyesight, which had been identified in his care plan notes, and did not act on his apparent disorientation. The fire door to the stairwell was regularly left open, which should not have happened at all, and the obvious risk this posed to Mr Foale should have been identified.

 

Date: 5 July 2012 - Cheshire manufacturer fined over severed finger

A Cheshire firm which makes large steel containers admitted a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 by failing to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery. The company was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £3,699 in costs after one of its employees lost part of a finger at a factory in Ellesmere Port.

The 55-year-old man, was trying to remove debris from the chains under a rotating table which holds the steel container lids in place while they are spray painted, when the glove on his right hand became caught. The incident resulted in him losing the tip of his index finger.

The court heard there were no guards under the rotating table to prevent access to the chains while they were moving. The company has since installed fencing and a gate around the machine, which causes it to stop operating if the gate is opened.

 

Davidson Williams (Merseyside) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 by failing to take measures to prevent 3 workers being injured in a fall after a concerned member of the public sent photos of the unsafe work to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The company was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay £1,500 towards the cost of the prosecution.

Workers on a sloping warehouse roof in Birkenhead without safety measures in place

The HSE investigation found there were around 400 clear plastic panels on the roof, designed to let in light, which could have broken away if they had been stepped on.

 

A Walsall bacon curing company has been fined after an employee lost three fingers when his hand became trapped in a packaging machine.

Mr Wilfred, aged 20, from Walsall, was walking through the company's curing department on 23 December 2009 when he saw bacon joint packs falling to the floor from the cutting unit. In an attempt to prevent this, he stood to the side of the conveyor, leaned over and put his left hand into the cutting unit. However, the machine was still switched on and Mr Wilfred's hand became trapped between the machine and the cutting blades, resulting in the loss of three fingers up to the first joint.

The firm, pleaded guilty to contravening Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £31,000 costs.

 

A few months after installation the residents noticed the pilot light wasn't working and asked a Gas Safe Registered engineer to service the fire. He classed it immediately dangerous and disconnected the gas supply. The fire had not been installed in accordance with the manufacturers' instructions and the flue had not been connected to the fire, risking carbon monoxide poisoning and potential fatal consequences.

 

Date: 4 July 2012 - Company sentenced for storage failings after worker is killed by stone slabs

Chelmsford Crown Court heard yesterday (3 July) that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the death and found that The Stone Company had operated an unsafe system of work for handling and storing stone slabs. The A-frames in use were poorly sited and as such were inappropriate within the confines of the warehouse.

 

Date: 3 July 2012 - Worker's injury leads to court case for firm

Mr Glyn Addison was working on a packaging machine when a wrapping unit developed a fault that stopped it from correctly sealing polythene around rolls of roof felt on a production line. Mr Addison squeezed past a table where the finished rolls were discharged and reached under the roll conveyor to free some packaging film from the machine. As he did, a ram pushing the rolls of felt on to the packaging machine moved forward and trapped him by the head and neck against the frame of the conveyor. The court heard Mr Addison was quickly freed by a colleague who prised away the ram. However, he suffered nerve damage to his neck and shoulder area and has not returned to work since.

HSE discovered that the wrapping machine often blocked and operatives regularly accessed the machine by walking between gaps down either side of the discharge table. The Company had failed to ensure that the machine could be effectively isolated so employees were unable to access dangerous moving parts. There was also no safe system of work for employees to follow.

 

Date: 3 July 2012 - Council fined after a member of the public was killed by a reversing bin lorry.

Bassetlaw District Council pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and were fined £25,000 and ordered to pay costs of £12,987.

Derrick Baines, 76, of Nottinghamshire, was returning home from the shops on his mobility scooter when he was struck by the lorry on 10 July 2008.  The lorry, which was on a missed bin collection only had a one-man crew when the incident happened and could have been prevented had there been a reversing assistant at the back of the vehicle. The driver was only aware something was wrong when he noticed shopping spilling into the road behind him. He stopped the lorry and found Mr Baines trapped underneath who suffered multiple injuries and died later in hospital.

After the hearing, the HSE inspector David Butter said "If the council had staffed the refuse collection lorry appropriately then Mr Baines would probably still be alive today. Very large vehicles such as this have a number of blind spots and it was impractical to expect a lone driver to reverse safely without the aid of a colleague walking behind to check the path was clear. These lorries are fitted with flashing lights and a reversing warning system but the council needed to take into consideration that system was not adequate and another worker should have been present and could have prevented this needless loss of life."

 

Daniel Hoggard was on the roof trying to repair a leak between two adjoining farm buildings when he tripped and smashed through one of six rooflights, landing on the concrete floor puncturing a lung and kidney, cracking four vertebrae and had extensive bruising in the incident last year. He was in hospital for a week and was unable to work for six weeks. A year on, he is still receiving physiotherapy to ease the longer-term impact of his injuries.

Magistrates heard Mr Adamson had hired Daniel Hoggard to help out over the busy summer harvest period and to assist with building repairs and general farm work. Both men had together made one attempt over several hours to fix the leak on the roof, which sloped from 4.1m to nearly 5m and had six roof lights along its 27m length. After that failed, Mr Adamson asked Daniel to fit lead flashing where the leaks remained. It was while he was doing this that he tripped, lost his balance and plunged through the roof light on to the concrete below.

The HSE investigation found Mr Adamson had failed to consider the significant risks involved of working at height and had not put any safeguards or protective controls in place during the roof work.

 

Date:  2 July 2012 -  Council-owned firm fined after worker receives electric shock

Swindon Commercial Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Swindon Borough Council, has been fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,403 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 34(3) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 when.an agency employee received an electric shock whilst securing fencing at a play area.

The worker was working at the town's Shaw Ridge Play Park when the incident happened on 23 April 2010. He was hitting metal road pins into soft ground in order to secure temporary fencing at the renovation project, when one of the pins he was holding made contact with a high voltage underground electric cable. He suffered burns to his hands and chest.

The HSE's investigation found that Swindon Commercial Services failed to plan the work properly.  The company did not carry out an appropriate risk assessment, and did not refer to plans of underground services from the appropriate utility companies. The company also failed to provide cable avoidance tools to locate and mark and underground services.

 

Date: 2 July 2012 - Council fined after failing to manage asbestos at Teesside site

Stockton on Tees Borough Council acquired the Music and Drama Club in Buchanan Street and decided to demolish it as part of a regeneration project. A survey was carried out in April 2010 that identified areas that contained asbestos.

Teesside Magistrates' Court heard today (2 July) that it was usual practice to "clear and strip" buildings prior to demolition. This was carried out by one of the council's "Care For Your Area" teams over the weekend of 29-31 May 2010.

The eight-strong team removed most of the fixtures and fittings, including doors, seating and a kitchen, and all debris and rubble was swept up, transferred to a refuse vehicle and transported to a landfill site for disposal. However, when a contractor was appointed to carry out the asbestos removal and demolition of the building in July, it was discovered that the earlier work had disturbed the fabric of the building and some items containing asbestos had already been removed.

A further survey in August 2010 revealed that asbestos had been disturbed or removed in eight areas within the building and the issue was reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in October 2010.

An investigation by HSE found that the council had made a series of serious safety failings. It had had failed to make an assessment of the risk created by the presence of asbestos before the clearance work began. There was a chance the workers could be exposed to asbestos, but no plan of work had been agreed and measures taken to prevent potential exposure were inadequate.

Workers were not told asbestos was present and had received no asbestos awareness training. Also, the council failed to ensure that those organising the work had the necessary competence to do so.

The council also failed to prevent or reduce the spread of asbestos as employees and others working in the building wore their work uniforms and travelled home in them each day. No measures were taken to ensure the safe disposal of debris from the club; it had been put into a refuse vehicle and disposed of as municipal waste.

Stockton on Tees Borough Council, of Municipal Buildings, Church Road, Stockton, was fined a total of £20,000 (£10,000 for each offence) and ordered to pay £5,555.60 costs after it pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

After the case, HSE inspector Natalie Wright, said:

"Stockton on Tees Borough Council failed to ensure that a suitable and sufficient assessment was made of the risk created by the presence of asbestos in this building, and therefore did not take the steps required in order to comply with the regulations.

"Instead the members of the 'Care For Your Area' team were potentially exposed to asbestos fibres, something which was entirely preventable.

"The council also failed to prevent or reduce the spread of asbestos as no measures were taken to dispose of the waste safely and the workers returned home in their uniforms each day, potentially spreading any asbestos even further.

"This prosecution should act as a reminder to others that they need a system in place to ensure that asbestos is properly managed in their properties."